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Our underachieving and self-serving elites


Rob, Erik and I had a discussion about this subject in our forthcoming podcast, but the number of liberal politicians who refuse to adhere to best practices in COVID response in their personal conduct is genuinely infuriating:

Cabo is probably nice this time of year. Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, would know: The Austin American-Statesman reports that he traveled there in November on a private jet, one day after hosting his daughter’s wedding. Adler is a hard worker; he took a break from his trip to record a special video for his constituents. “We need to stay home if you can. This is not the time to relax,” he said. An astute point! But one he clearly struggles to internalize. Upon being found out, Adler defended both vacation and wedding, even though the guest list at the latter event exceeded city recommendations on private gatherings. He eventually apologized.

The mayor joins an unfortunate cohort. He is one of several elected officials to flout safety standards over the last few weeks of the pandemic. California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, attended a party at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant. A night later, so did London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco. Denver mayor Michael Hancock flew to see family for Thanksgiving — after telling his staff to refrain from all travel.

Everyone is very sorry. Everyone is a Democrat, too. There are no anti-maskers in this bunch; no one is trying to inherit Trump’s base. But the contrast between their party affiliation and their behavior isn’t as incongruous as it initially seems. Partisanship cannot help us understand the seductive qualities of a French Laundry or the allure of a Mexican resort town. Nor does it explain why Hancock would scold his workers about the very mistake he planned to make himself. Each politician shares something beyond a flair for the hypocritical. They share a class, and the rules have always been different for them.

Normally, I don’t particularly care about “hypocrisy” charges leveled against a politician, but this is different: modelling good behavior is really important, particularly when the public officials of one political party are claiming that that anti-COVID measures are unnecessary. And, as Jones says, it also reflects the massive class and racial disparities in how the death toll from COVID is distributed.

…as wjts noted, we have footage of Adler telling his side of the story:

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